Summary: Because the gospel is for all people, God calls believers to take the good news to people in other places.
Title: Everyone Can Take the Good News to Others
Text: Acts 13:1-3, 26-33a, 38-39, 44-48
Truth: Because the gospel is for all people, God calls believers to take the good news to people in other places.
Aim: To help you participate in taking the gospel to all people.
Imagine that you have a big house and lots of land. Imagine further that a refugee shows up at the door asking if he might camp out in your backyard for a while. You are moved with compassion and grant him permission. A little later he asks if some relatives, who are also homeless, might also come and live on your property. What are you to do? How can you turn them away? So again you say yes. But then more come and more come. Soon there are hundreds. What have you gotten yourself into; you begin to wonder?
Something like that happened to a 22-year-old German nobleman in 1722. His name was Niklaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf. His estate was in East Germany. He was heir to one of Europe’s leading royal families. As you might expect his neighbors were not too pleased with the “riff-raff” that was finding asylum on his property. It began with ten in December 1722 and by late 1726 it was over 300. The place was known as “Herrnhut” meaning “The Lord’s Watch.” It soon turned into a small city of grateful and motivated Christian craftsmen and laypeople.
That crowded refugee estate became in time the most dynamic and strategic missionary launching pad since the early church. A deep outpouring of the Holy Spirit came on the community in August 1727. They organized a 24-hour prayer chain. At least two people were at prayer every hour of the day. This prayer meeting would last over 100 years. They became known by the nickname “God’s Happy People.”
Anthony, a former slave, came to speak at Herrnhut of the deplorable conditions of the slaves in the West Indies. The night he spoke, two of their young men could not sleep as they struggled with a sense that God was moving their hearts to offer themselves to go and minister to the slaves. When they were told that perhaps the only way they could do this was to become slaves themselves, they said they were willing if that is what it would take. Within 25 years more than 200 had gone out as missionaries from this small community to every continent of the world.
Every member of that community thought of themselves as a missionary. Each felt an obligation to take the gospel to all people and other places. The Roman Catholics had monks and nuns who traveled the world but this was different. This was a man and his wife and their children who saw the spread of the Christian message a major objective for their family. They believed that everyone can take the good news to others.
Jesus had said in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” What happens in chapter 13 is the disciples take the gospel to the final frontier, “the ends of the earth.” I don’t think it is exaggerating to compare this historical event to Columbus discovering the New World or man walking on the moon. This event transformed Europe’s barbarians into the leaders of civilization and gave us Bach, Beethoven, Isaac Newton, and the greatest invention in history—the Guttenburg Press. Because these believers took the good news to people in other areas we are worshiping the Lord Jesus today.
What does the power of the gospel compel believers to do?
I. SEND OUT MISSIONARIES (ACTS 13:1-3)
For almost 2,000 years the power of the gospel has changed individuals, communities, and even nations. We are so convinced of the power of God to change people’s lives and remove their sin that believers have been compelled to send out missionaries. When you see the glories of Western civilization it can be traced to a prayer meeting at a church in the region of Syria, about 300 miles north of Jerusalem.
Antioch was the Roman headquarters for the provinces of Syria and Cilicia. It was a cosmopolitan city of Greeks, Jews, Romans and Syrians. It became the home of Gentile Christianity.
The diversity of this church is seen in its leadership. We know that Barnabus was a Levite from Cyprus (4:36). Simeon called Niger (black) was presumably a black African. Lucius of Cyrene definitely came from North Africa and Manean, a close friend of Herod Antipas, was from the upper crust of society. Of course, there is Saul, latter called Paul, who was a devout Pharisee from Cilicia. These five men symbolized the cultural and ethnic diversity found in Antioch. They served the church as prophets and teachers.